Wrestling Terms List

Wrestling Terms List

There are many terms and expressions used within wrestling to describe moves, types of wrestling, and much more. This glossary of terms covers many of the important words and phrases used from professional wrestling to folkstyle wrestling.

List of Wrestling Glossary Terms

All-American: Used in collegiate wrestling to describe someone who finishes in the top eight of their weight class at a national level.

Angle: Another term for storyline. Professional wrestling matches are scripted, similar to the way that movies and novels have plots. Wrestling angles may be contained to a single match or may play out over several matches.

Arm throw: A maneuver in which the wrestler throws the opponent over his or her shoulder by grabbing and holding the opponent’s arm.

Babyface: In professional wrestling, this is the good guy that fans are supposed to support. Similar to the hero of a novel or movie, the babyface is the designated hero within the wrestling angle. This is sometimes referred to simply as the ‘face’.

Backdoor: A maneuver in which a wrestler goes between their opponent’s legs when in the bottom position.

Blind: This occurs in professional wrestling when one wrestler cheats as the referee has his back turned to the match. This move is usually performed by the heel in order to gain the advantage over the babyface.

Blowoff: The last match to settle a feud between two professional wrestlers. Within the wrestling angle, the tension has been building up to this climactic point in the storyline. 

Bottom position: A wrestler’s position when their opponent is in control or on top.

Break an opponent: When one wrestler gains the edge in a closely contested match. This is also a motivational phrase used by coaches.

Breakdown: Forcing an opponent to the mat on their stomach or side.

Bridge: When a wrestler turns their body into a bridge position to avoid getting pinned. When in a bridge position, only the wrestler’s head and feet are touching the mat.

Bump: When a wrestler hits the ground or mat.

Buried / burial: In professional wrestling, this is when a wrestler’s popularity falls because he is consistently placed in bad storylines and forced to lose matches. This occurs either as part of an angle or as punishment for a wrestler who has upset his company’s officials or fellow wrestlers.

Cauliflower ear: A deformity to the outer ear that is common among wrestlers. Cauliflower ear is caused by a direct blow to the outer ear, which happens frequently in wrestling.

Clean finish: When a professional wrestling match ends with no cheating, disqualification, or interference of any kind. More specifically, a clean finish is often used to describe a pin or submission that remains untainted.

Control: When a wrestler has a dominant position and is restricting their opponent’s movement.

Cradle: A position in which the wrestler wraps both arms around the neck of their opponent and tightly grips their hands together.

Cut him / Cut her: A phrase used to describe letting a wrestler get up or escape a pin. Cutting is done when a wrestler’s strategy is to rack up points by scoring multiple takedowns in succession.

Dirty finish: The opposite of a clean finish. A dirty finish describes a match in which cheating or disqualification were involved.

Double-leg takedown: A maneuver in which the wrestler takes down their opponent by grabbing both their legs and pulling them.

Escape: When an athlete moves out from under the bottom position and gets to their feet to face their opponent.

Exposure: A move in which a wrestler turns their opponent’s shoulders to the mat and exposes them to the possibility of a pin.

Finisher: Professional wrestlers typically have a signature move that is used to finish off their opponent.

Five: In folkstyle wrestling, this is a move in which a wrestler throws their opponent, feet over head, and scores five points.

Folkstyle: The style of wrestling practiced in high school and collegiate competition in the United States. Folkstyle wrestling matches consist of three periods in which wrestlers attempt to gain points through moves or win the match outright by pinning their opponent. 

Freestyle: The style of wrestling practiced in international competitions like the Olympics.

Funk: An unorthodox method of wrestling that involves high risk and high reward.

Gassed: When a wrestler gets tired and runs out of energy. Wrestlers may lose a match because they are too gassed to carry on.

Gimmick: The character traits of a professional wrestler that define the way he dresses, wrestles, and behaves in general. Gimmicks can be completely fictionalized or based on real-life personality traits.

Good on their feet: Wrestlers who are able to create offense and defend against opponents from their feet. Wrestlers who are good on their feet are able to get out of tight spots and avoid getting scored on because of their balance, strength, and quick footwork.

Got caught: When a wrestler gets pinned in an unexpected manner.

Greco-Roman: A form of freestyle wrestling in which the wrestler is restricted from attacking their opponent’s legs.

Green: A term used to describe a wrestler who is inexperienced. Wrestlers who are green are typically at the beginning of their career and more likely to make mistakes.

Heel: In professional wrestling, this is the villain who opposes the babyface. In wrestling angles, the heel is designated as the antagonist.

Hit: When a wrestler succeeds in whatever move they have attempted.

Iowa style: A style of wrestling in which superior conditioning is used to wear down opponents. Iowa style dictates that the wrestler outwork and attack their opponent throughout the match.

Kayfabe: Maintaining the illusion that professional wrestling is real and not scripted. Kayfabe is a concept that ensures fans believe what they are seeing is reality.

Leg shot: A quick move in which a wrestler thrusts toward their opponent’s legs in an effort to lock onto one or both of them.

Level change: When a wrestler raises or lowers their hips in order to move into a new position.

Made weight: When a wrestler is approved to wrestle in their designated weight class after weighing in prior to a match or tournament.

Neutral position: The stance that wrestlers assume at the beginning of a match. When in neutral position, wrestlers are standing and facing each other, but not in contact.

Over/under: A move in which the wrestler wraps one arm over and the other arm under their opponent. The over/under is sometimes referred to as the dance position.

Professional wrestling: A form of entertainment in which wrestlers are considered performers and wrestling matches are generally scripted stories. Professional wrestling differs from styles of wrestling such as folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman in that it is viewed as entertainment rather than a true sport.

Pin: When a wrestler forces their opponent’s shoulders to the mat.

Reversal: When a wrestler in the bottom position completely reverses the situation and assumes the top position.

Riding timePoints earned when a wrestler is in control or on top of their opponent during a match. Folkstyle wrestling awards wrestlers one point for each minute of riding time.

Roll around: Another term for wrestling practice or drills.

Russian: A move in which the wrestler grabs their opponent’s arm with both hands to gain control. Also referred to as a 2-on-1, this technique is usually only performed when a wrestler is winning.

Shoot: In professional wrestling, this is when a wrestler goes off-script and does something real, such as saying something unscripted during a promo or performing an unplanned move during a match.

Single-leg takedown: A maneuver in which the wrestler takes down their opponent by grabbing and lifting one of their legs.

Singlet: The one-piece uniform worn by wrestlers.

Slam: A move in which a wrestler lifts their opponent from the mat and throws them back down with unnecessary force. Slams are illegal in amateur wrestling, but are frequently used in professional wrestling.

Slick: Wrestlers who are quick, flexible, and very athletic.

Spot: In professional wrestling, this is a scripted move or series of moves. Spots are typically planned in advance and are designed to elicit a huge reaction from the crowd.

Stalling: When a wrestler avoids taking action. Wrestlers who are winning sometimes stall late in the match to avoid getting caught by their opponent.

Takedown: When a wrestler takes their opponent to the mat from the neutral position.

Throw: Any move where a wrestler lifts their opponent from the mat and brings them back down.

Tie-up: Any move in which a wrestler gains control of their opponent by grabbing their upper body.

Top position: When a wrestler is in control or on top of their opponent. This term is commonly used in folkstyle wrestling.

Tweener: In professional wrestling, this is a wrestler who is neither a babyface or a heel. A tweener typically displays characteristics of both sides.

Whizzer: Also known as an overhook, a whizzer is a clinch hold used to control the opponent. A wrestler would perform a whizzer by putting an arm over the opponent’s arm and encircling the opponent’s upper body.

Work: Anything scripted to happen in a professional wrestling match. This is the opposite of a shoot.